December 2003

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Nothing traditional here just my part of the Christmas festivities for my Mum and my sister and associated friends and partners. Cranberry juice was the sole concession here to Xmas mores.

Spinach and Eggs in Ramekins – in the archives .

Pancakes with Corn

Jamie Oliver breakfast recipe more or less. I’m pretty sure he didn’t invent panckes but credit where credit’s due I guess.

4 eggs – separated into white and yolks; cup of plain flour; teaspoon of baking powder; cup of milk; can of corn (not creamed but you knew that)

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.

From memory, two egg beating killers are; the bowl not being spotless, and any trace of yolk. O/w you’ll be beating ’til you’re raw.

Fold this in to the other mix which is just the rest of the ingredients mixed to a batter.

Mix in the corn and then cooked the pancakes in a non-stick pan with a dab of butter. Amused myself doing double flips.

Served with bacon and genuine Canadian maple syrup from my Quebecois brother in law. Never had this combo before but now it’s goodbye to berries and cream.

Oven Roasted Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Prosciutto

This is my own concoction.

Oven roasting tray.

Line the bottom with field mushrooms and this time, a very special guest, fresh shiitake. Not being precious but I picked up a punnet from a Japanese guy at the Margaret River street markets. He’s been growing them in wheat country Narrogin in abandoned underground WW2 ammo dumps – yes yes who would have thought.

Pour some olive oil over the mushrooms and I added a bit of butter for good measure. On top of the mushrooms went some fresh rosemary and thyme.

Next layer was some halves of tomatoes. Prociutto was mix around over and under the tomatoes. Finally a bit more olive oil and some freshly cracked pepper and a pinch of salt for the tomatoes though the prosciutto is nearly salty enough.

Into the oven at 150C, after 20 minutes I put some foil over the top to stop the prosciutto blackening. After an hour it was perfect, with the mushroom soft and the tomatoes nicely collapsed. A pool of grease on the bottom suggested lining the bottom with toast but maybe for another time.

All round good and easy, stuffing things in the oven allows time for other stuff like making coffee, squeezing juice, and flipping pancakes.

Breakfast got good wraps. Sydney friend gave it the blessing of best breakfast he’d ever had.

Merry Xmas

Szechuan Chicken/ Cashew Basil Rice/Broccolini

No-fuss meal for a hungry and lonely friend.

The Szechuan chicken recipe is earlier and well worth a look.

Rice – basmati rice cooked in a rice cooker.

2/3 of a cup of cashews were chopped up and stir fried in a little peanut oil until coloured -slightly black while I wandered out to get some basil.

A few chopped up basil leaves were quickly stir fired with any oil left in the wok then added, with the cashews, to the rice and stirred in and served.

Broccolini is the best.

Microwaved for a minute and a half, chilled in cold water to stop the colour. Fried a couple of sliced garlic cloves then added the broccolini until heated then served with some garlic-chilli-soy sauce.

Fish Green Curry

Local Cod, North Rankin or something. Easy curry.

Half a cup of green curry paste, stirred in a wok quickly and a similar amount of water then added. Left to simmer for five minutes then in with a can of coconut milk followed by the bits of fish in bite sized pieces and some fresh baby corn left to simmer until cooked.

A Donna Hay recipe idea meant adding a small handfull of fresh basil and a splash of lime juice just before the end of cooking.

The cod didn’t blend at all and, for a white fish, did its best to fight with the flavours.

Served on Jasmine rice.

Ocean Beach Hotel

$10 steak sanwiches with the lot and chips with a free view of the Indian Ocean. No idea why there aren’t a few thousand people down there.

Noodle House Pho Sydney

I miss Ramen. Ramen was always my single favourite Japanese foods and is usually the first thing I eat when I go back there. Ramen shops are everywhere, we has about half a dozen within two minutes’ walk of our apartment in Tokyo. Most places specialised in one or two varieties based around a pork broth, with either soy sauce – shouyu-, miso, pork bones -tonkotsu- being the main flavours. The rest of the variety came from the topppings – wontons, negi, BBQ pork, nori, corn, boiled egg and so on. I had about four favourite shops. One in Harajuku played Elvis all the time. Another, out on the Chuo line, was run by some Chinese from the North-East of China and specialised in hand-made egg noodles. The dough would be stretched out from hand to hand and then shaken and then folded until, somehow, it was a long strand of noodles. There was also be the occasional street stall that never failed to be good. Ramen is also the perfect post boozing food and I thought the liquid would ward off hangovers.

Short of going to Japan, you could do worse than watching Tampopo. Tampopo is a take on a stranger rides into town Western with a Magnificent 7 style posse to help a struggling female Ramen shop owner. Very funny and the scene with the laundry is as touching as they come.

The last shop I went to in Perth with ramen left me spending more time than usual in the gents so we headed in to Northbridge to find a noodle shop. The Hung Long has long gone but we found the Vietnamese Noodle House Pho Sydney on William Street. Of the many things going for it: it looked like a family operation, decor was not a priority, people inside seemed happy enough.

I had the spicy beef and pork soup and a not so spicy soup as well as some fried squid and fried stuffed chicken wings. All were good. I’ve had the stuffed chicken wings of a few nationalities and these ones, stuffed with chicken meat and rice vermicelli to look like little drumsticks were great. The broth was great and tasted of being cooked, not a couple of cups of stock powder. Side topping were bean sprouts, chopped green chillies, and lemon. The only downer were the wafer thin slices of meat. Well recommended for noodle soup and far better than the soup at the Han chain which has ranged from ordinary to vile.

Chorizo in Red Wine

Chorizo as in “ch”eese, not chianti as I”d wrongly assumed Spanish being a Romance Language and all. Soy un idiota!

This was an impromptu tapas evening inspired by a large bottle of Talijancich sherry that had been gathering dust.

The sausages came from a small Spanish deli in the Wembley food hall and come in standard or spicy. Both are great.

There is a slightly more elaborate way of cooking them but the simplest way is pricking them, letting them simmer for 15 minutes in red wine. Leave for a while and then slice into cm thick slices. Keep the wine.

One recipe called for a flambe in some brandy, I tried a bit of leftover bourbon but couldn’t get it to light up, so forget the booze. Just fry them up in a pan until a little browned and then add some of the reserved wine, cook a little to coat and enough for a bit of juice.

Served with some chopped parsley for garnish.

My parsley has seeded and is looking like a triffid at the moment – I half expected the lash of a stamen and then for it to crawl over and devour me.

I chilled the sherry and it was a little on the sweet side for what I wanted but tasty nonetheless

Mmmmmmmmmmeat.

It’s good to eat.

Its multidimensional flavour can’t be beat.

Meat.

Beef

It’s the chief

It comes from pasture’s leaf

Beef.

Two T-bone steaks rubbed with olive oil, pepper and some fresh thyme and left.

Broccolini and squash, micro-waved for 2 minutes and then left in cold water – keeps the flavour and crunchiness on the inside.

Jerusalem artichokes were peeled and zapped for a minute then sliced thinly (thicker than finely).

T-bones were cooked to medium rare on the stove-top-hot-plate thing, then rested and replaced on the STHPT with the veges which were cooked in a little olive oil until warm on the outside. JAs on top of the steak, others to the side and then the sauce on the steak.

The sauce: apropos of my previous post with what I had handy. A cup of beef stock half a cup of leftover champagne, reduced a little, half a cup of cream added and then a teaspoon of dijon mustard and reduced a little further.

Peppercorn Sauce update

According to my student with the credentials of being a French Chef in Korea for 10 years, adding cream to boiling stock and then reducing is no problem as long as it’s given the odd stir and isn’t reduced too much.

Also:

Italian teacher student explained bruschetta is pronounce with a hard K for the “ch” (like school and chianti) whereas proscuitto is pronounced with a soft “sh”. Now I don’t have to mumble at the deli.

Having just stepped out of a panelled job interview I thought booze and dinner was in order. Indian is an uncommon choice in Perth when compared to others and I’d posit it’s got something to do with perception of value. It’s more expensive than most Asian food and lacking the fine food cues like erm… large white plates? garnish? doesn’t justify it’s premium.

We ordered the rogan josh, a cheese curry whose name escapes me, naan, rice, and a few samosas. The small bowls were underwhelming and the sheer heat of spiciness puts Indian as the death metal of food. Once I got over this I realised I was very wrong. The carbos counter well and ,like death metal, time allows great subtleties to play out (or so I could have found out if I’d stayed at the Hyde Park for more than 20 minutes the other Friday for we’re young, angry, and have suspiciously nice equipment). I was full before I finished and when you pay close to $20 for a main for pub food which is mostly meat and garnish, the bill was fine. Service was great.

The place was packed on a Monday so my theory on the popularity of Indian food is crap and that’s a good thing. Will be back.

Swordfish With Salsa

Captain Billy noooooooo!

Two swordfish fillets the less cooked the better on a barbie then topped with a bit of salsa.

Salsa

2 chopped tomatoes, 1 chopped red onion, 1 tbs chopped coriander, chopped fresh red chili (seeds removed), juice of 1 lime, and a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Mix.

I’m not big into making cakes but I was given 6 mangoes (into a bar) by one of my students and,feeling catholic, took them but felt guilty and then decided to assuage my guilt by using them for a cheesecake which the class could eat for the final lesson. Good, not too sweet because of the lime juice. Recipe written down from somewhere a long time ago:

Crust:

250gm digestive biscuits (Granita)

1.5 tbs caster sugar

110gm butter

Crush biscuits and mix in with butter and sugar and line the base of a flan tin (with the springy side) with it.

Filling:

2 Mangoes chopped up real good

Juice of one lime

4tbs sugar

Refrigerate this for about half an hour, drain off some liquid, heat a little so 3tsp of gelatine can dissolve in it. Return to the mango mix.

Beat 350gm of cream cheese, stir in 175ml of sour cream and 1tsp of vanilla essence and the fold in the mango mixture and refrigerate until firm.

Students liked it because the lime and sour cream kept it from being overly sweet.

Mashed Potatoes With Pesto

Cook spuds, add some olive oil, add some pesto and mash.

Nothing brilliant but couldn’t be bothered doing anything more and for the effort OK I guess

The Middle Island Fishing Club

While Western Australia does have its orthodoxies with the rest of the world and its uniquities, it is one of the few places I know where people, without too much fuss, will drive for six hours to go to a party. This may say something of our pioneer spirit or pay speak of the poverty of other good social options.

Thanks to a couple of friends, I was invited to the annual seafood dinner of the Middle Island Fishing Club of Kalgoorlie. Kalgoorlie is part of the mysterious lands east of the Darling Scarp and is a straight 600km east of Perth.

I’d expected was a few blokes bringing a few fish back from their yearly salt-water sabbatical. My first job in the morning busy-bee was helping to shift an industrial double vat deep fryer from where it had been parked after last year’s dinner and, after that, make 20 litres of batter.

My small amount of help left others to lug the two whole legs of beef and rub them down with garlic and salt, shuck 100 dozen oysters, marinate a few hundred beef ribs, put a whole sheep on a roasting rack, get a few dozen fish ready for smoking and generally get things nice for the more than 400 guests on the former tennis courts of the century old Hannan’s club.

I volunteered/gatecrashed to help out on the deep fryer because I love the feeling of searing hot splashes of oil on my arm and find cooking the only type of work I find myself irresistably drawn to. A few hours dipping stuff in batter wasn’t a lot to do in the greater scheme of things and there were only a few minutes when we couldn’t keep up with the line of guests working their way through fried thai fish balls, crumbed sardines and “crocodile”, fish in beer batter and chips. The food for the night went seamlessly with only one professional, a local catering lecturer at TAFE. There were plenty of nice touches like the hams being carried out skewered on a pitchfork. This, happily, left hours for drinking and crap dancing.

This was all very rare. So much good food by so few for so many.